Trip to Finals Rodeo worth it for Coflin


Laura Coflin admitted that before going on a trip to Guthrie, Okla., for the National High School Finals Rodeo, she had some doubts about the journey because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday back at home in Pukalani on her first day of a 14-day quarantine upon returning, she had no doubt the trip was worth it. Coflin came home with what several officials have told her is the best finish ever in any event at the NHSFR for a Hawaii competitor, second place in girls cutting.

“Going in there I just felt so lucky because so many wonderful people had offered me their horses,” said Coflin, an online senior who competed in six events in the NHSFR. “Everyone had just been so generous, so I really didn’t have a lot of expectations. I just hoped that I could go in and make good runs and just get to know some wonderful people.”

She finished second in a very specialized event where the girls compete on horseback, rounding up one cow out of a large group and “cutting” them into a designated spot in a 2-minute, 30-second go-round. There are four people, one in each corner of the arena, helping the riders round up the cattle.

Aboard a borrowed horse named “Metro,” Coflin finished second — or reserve champion — out of 92 scored riders. Winner Jaycee Lowery of Gardendale, Ala., scored 438.5 points to Coflin’s 434.

Laura Coflin competes on horse Metro at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Guthrie, Okla., last week. Coflin finished second out of 92 competitors in girls cutting. ACENTRIC RODEO photo

“Everyone was kind of posting about it on Facebook, some of the aunties there were posting about it, saying, ‘Oh, Laura’s doing this, Laura’s doing this,’ and then ‘Laura’s the reserve world champion,’ “ Coflin said. “So, I received so much support from everybody here. People that I don’t even know, hundreds and hundreds of comments on there, people congratulating me, saying how proud they are and saying how well I was representing the islands and the whole state.

“So to go up there, Hawaii never, ever really do well — it’s very rare that we get kids even in the short go (finals). So, to go up there and be the reserve world champion and just miss being the world champion by four points, doing something that no one from Hawaii has ever done before, it’s just so incredible. I feel so lucky to have been given such a good horse to try and do it on,”

Coflin was one of three Maui County competitors to make the trip to the event, joining Daniel Miranda and Kahiwa Augustiro.

She said her expectations were low “especially in cutting where most of the kids do the National Cutting Horse Association year-round. The girl that won (Lowery) has won the NCHA, as I was talking to her, she said: ‘Oh yeah, I’ve won it two times,’ like the worlds in that and that’s all a lot of those kids do. There were so many wonderful people helping me … it was just kind of a fluky thing.”

She also finished 28th with Trisyn Kalawaia of the Big Island in team roping after his regular partner was unable to compete. If not for a missed leg on one of their two qualifying runs, they would have finished in the top 10 after they were able to put in just two practice runs in Guthrie. She was also 37th in both pole bending and reined cow horse.

Now, she realistically dreams of competing in college rodeo.

“I definitely would love to college rodeo in Texas or somewhere like that or California,” Coflin said. “Doing well up there, I wish more kids would go because the opportunity is so incredible. You get to really see where you need to be and, like, step up your game. And it’s so motivating to come home and get better and better and better.

“All these (local) kids who are, like, ‘Oh, it’s not worth it.’ I’ve only rode horses for like five years. So going up there has really brought up my level of competition and seeing where I want to be to compete.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.


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